The Caretaking Pattern

If you have the Caretaking Pattern, you are caring and compassionate toward others, but often at the expense of your own needs or desires. At some level, though, your caring may come with strings attached. You may have a desire to be appreciated for all that you give to others, rather than giving without the need for a return. You may be aware of hoping that people will care more for you and give you their time and attention in return for your efforts.

You may take pride in being a “mind-reader.” You may get a lift from providing assistance that you believe people need even before they ask for it. You may frequently give too much help, and often at the expense of taking care of yourself. You may regularly be the last person to leave a party even when you’re exhausted, because you’re always helping the host tidy up. You may believe that all of your giving to others is building up a pool of help and favors that you can call upon someday. Or you may believe that by reading the minds of your loved ones, you will be able to expect them to do the same for you–that they will know and deliver the support you want without you ever having to ask.

Some level of the desire to help others is natural and healthy. We are, after all, social beings who need interpersonal support to get along in the world. But if you find yourself regularly sacrificing your own comfort for the sake of helping someone else–for instance, if you give up a therapeutic massage appointment because your sister “just has to have your opinion” on a new couch she’s buying–you very likely have the Caretaking Pattern.

In fact, your caretaking part may assume that other people aren’t as capable of taking care of themselves as you are. You might believe that you “know better” when it comes to what would be good for someone else. Unless this person is a small child, though, it is unlikely that your perception of someone else’s needs is more valid than their own.

For a variety of reasons, you may not have received feedback from others that your caretaking is a problem. If you have the Caretaking Pattern you probably attract people who may, on some level, like being taken care of, or who become dependent on you. You may have people in your life that you believe would suffer if you were to stop caretaking them, and you may enjoy “being needed.”

The key to knowing if you have the Caretaking Pattern is to look at how often you are meeting your own needs. If you are always putting yourself last, if you are tired and feel like you are responsible for making sure other people are okay emotionally, logistically, or financially, then you have the Caretaking Pattern.



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